Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2004
Publication Date: 4/14/2005
Citation: Malik, N.S., Bradford, J.M. 2005. Design and construction of an inexpensive plexiglas chilling chamber to study flowering in olives. HortScience. 40(2):496-497. Interpretive Summary: Olives are not grown in South Texas as a commercial crop due to inconsistent chilling temperatures that are required for flowering. There is, however, a strong interest among farmers in South Texas to develop appropriate cultivars or chemical or physical strategies that would facilitate flowering and fruiting in olives under variable weather conditions. To study flowering in olives, plant growth chambers capable of producing chilling temperatures (2-7 'C) are required. Commercial growth chambers for this purpose, however, are generally quite expensive and have difficulty maintaining temperature lower than 4 'C. We have designed and constructed simple and relatively inexpensive environmental chambers and demonstrated their utility for experimental induction of flowering in olives. The chambers were designed to study flowering in Arbequina variety of olives (relatively small trees) but can be easily modified to fit the needs of other similar sized fruit trees and shrubs, and will offer enormous cost benefits (over $60,000 per unit) to plant scientists.
Technical Abstract: Design and method of construction of an inexpensive environmental chamber to study flowering in olives are described. The chamber has been tested and it very effectively induced flowering in olives cv. Arbequina. The environmental chamber is capable of producing chilling conditions even under extreme hot summers of South Texas. While most commercial growth chambers can cool to a set point of 4 'C, with hourly rise of 2-3 'C above the set point for defrosting, this chamber can consistently maintain temperatures below 2.5 'C, and provide stepwise increases and decreases in temperature at the beginning and at the end of the day. Due to clear Plexiglas roof and side walls, it relies upon natural light as opposed to artificial light that is typical of commercial growth chambers. Small modification to the design can be made to fit specific needs for other crop plants requiring temperature as controllable environmental parameter.